Israel, New Gulf Allies to Seek Hezbollah Designation as Terror Group at U.N.

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Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates will seek Hezbollah’s designation as a terrorist group by countries that have not yet done so as well as the United Nations, a senior Israeli official told Israeli daily Israel Hayom Thursday.

The Iranian-backed Shiite group has been categorized as a terrorist organization by Israel, the US, the UK, Germany, Canada, Austria, Argentina, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Kosovo, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Paraguay, Serbia, Switzerland, and Venezuela.

The Arab League also designated Hezbollah as a terror group in 2016, as did the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council representing Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar, the report said.

Israel, the UAE and Bahrain recently signed the U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords normalizing ties.

The E.U., France, Australia and New Zealand, on the other hand, only deems Hezbollah’s armed wing to be a terrorist group.

Yehoshua Zarka, deputy director for strategic affairs at the Foreign Ministry, noted that E.U. and other nations’ failure to outlaw Hezbollah has allowed the terror group to maintain its fundraising efforts, under the guise of donations to humanitarian, welfare and educational endeavors.

But Hezbollah terror chief Hassan Nasrallah “doesn’t make that distinction so these donations still make up 30% of Hezbollah’s budget, so this is significant income,” Zarka said.

He added that Israel has changed tack in how it calls on other countries to ban Hezbollah.

“Rather than declare that countries needed to ‘outlaw’ Hezbollah, we revised the goal and instructed our missions in every country to detect the angle that each country could use to ban Hezbollah activity on its soil. Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi spoke with his counterparts and it pushed the process even further.

“Sometimes we asked the Americans to use their pull, and in other cases our friends in the Mossad relayed intelligence that helped countries make the call.”

The reasons to ban Hezbollah are manifold, Zarka said. First and foremost, “Undermining Hezbollah weakens Iran. It also deprives them [Hezbollah] from funds and undercut its image. We’re focusing our efforts on the EU because that affects all of its [27] members.”

“The goal was to have the UN designation Hezbollah as a terrorist group,” he added.

In April, Germany announced that it officially recognizes all of Hezbollah, and not just its military wing, as a terrorist organization, marking a departure from its previous position which was in line with the E.U.’s.

Hezbollah activities “violate criminal law and the organization opposes the concept of international understanding,” German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in a statement at the time.

Germany had previously dragged its feet out of concerns this would harm relations with Beirut.

Nasrallah on Sunday warned that his organization was “as ready as ever” for a war with Israel.
“The enemy no longer threatens that it will conquer Lebanon,” he said of Israel in a televised address.

“Now they think twice before striking. The enemy’s army suffers from psychological defects, that’s why it holds ground maneuvers – to instill a sense of trust among its soldiers,” Nasrallah said referring to a major military drill last week simulating war with the terror group.

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